Sunday, August 30, 2009

EDF Energy Contracting fined after worked killed in fall

EDF Energy Contracting has been fined ВЈ160,000 after a worker died from fatal head injuries after falling from scaffolding at a school in Worthing.

James Gordon, 63, was dismantling a mobile tower scaffold at a sports hall in Worthing High School in August 2007 when he fell.

The top working platform had been removed and Mr Gordon, of Leigh Park, Havant in Hampshire, was on an intermediate platform, according to the Brighton and Hove Argus.

An HSE investigation found that there were no handrails to save him and he fell more than five meters.

EDF Energy Contracting Ltd pleaded guilty at Chichester Crown Court today to breaching regulations 4b and 4c of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The company was also ordered to pay costs of ВЈ24,594.98.


EDF Energy Contracting fined after worked killed in fall


HSE Inspector Russell Beckett said: “It is important that all tower scaffolds are erected and dismantled correctly and that guard rails are fitted so as to prevent falls. All too often tower scaffolds are used incorrectly without the correct handrails.

“All working platforms must be provided with suitable edge protection.

“Guard rails should be at least 950mm high and an intermediate guard rail should be provided so that workers can’t fall through any unprotected gaps.”

Seddon profit plummets 89%School fees, health costs cancel fall in other prices

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Skanska wins £61m cancer unit in London

Skanska has won a ВЈ61m contract to build a world-class cancer centre in London for University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Based on the site of the former Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Obstetric Hospital, which moved into the new University College Hospital opposite Euston Station last November, the treatment centre will cover 14, 800 sq m over seven floors.

Skanska has opted for a reinforced concrete frame structure, which will be fitted with a bronze cladding and curtain wall system.

Skanska’s contract also includes wall, floor and ceiling finishes, mechanical and electrical engineering installations, lift installations, external works and refurbishment of existing underground tunnels.


Skanska wins £61m cancer unit in London


The UCLH cancer centre will be one of the first projects in the country to use the BREEAM 2008 Healthcare standard.
The new Cancer Centre will be connected to the local district combined heat and power system which will bring significant reductions in operational carbon emissions.

Material specifications have been carefully considered to maximise recycled content and minimise associated environmental impact, with significant carbon reductions being targeted in the concrete through the use of cement replacements and recycled aggregates.

Work is expected to start in September this year with completion set for October 2011.

Nissan’s Smyrna plant to use methanol to cut costsSES scoops major Woolwich M&E scheme

Midas loses its touch in downturn

Several small loss-making jobs and lower interest payments on cash reserves saw pre-tax profits at Exeter-based Midas Group slide from ВЈ5.9m last year to ВЈ631,000 in the year to April 2009.

Despite difficult trading, overall group turnover rose 16% to ВЈ243m as the construction and property group raised its slice of a shrinking marketplace. The West Country group also managed to continue to strengthen cash reserves over the year to peak at ВЈ36.7m.

The directors warned the contracting market had put margins under heavy pressure. This situation was further aggravated by the need to write-off bad debts, which were hampered by the difficulty in securing credit insurance over the year.


Midas loses its touch in downturn


Midas said lessons had been learnt to avoid making the same mistakes which lead to losses on several small projects at the construction arm which saw turnover rise 25% in the year.

The group boasts a strong orderbook and more than 20 framework agreements. While the property and retail business struggled in the downturn, Mi-space (UK), the affordable housing arm formed two years ago, saw turnover jump from ВЈ3.8m to ВЈ15.2m.




Nashville area hoteliers can’t get money for growthTurnover plummets 40% at A&H Construction & Development

Seddon profit plummets 89%

Seddon Group has warned that the prospects of government spending keeping the construction industry afloat are now "less certain".

The comments came as the firm revealed an 89% fall in pre-tax profit to ВЈ1.27m for the year to 31 December 2008. Turnover also fell to ВЈ248.6m (ВЈ279m).

Despite this Seddon called the results "satisfactory" given the difficult economic conditions faced by the industry, and reported a net cash inflow of ВЈ2.5m, as opposed to a new cash outflow of ВЈ2.7m in 2007.

It reported that its residential and commercial property arms faced the most difficult trading conditions in the year. Its contracting business remained more steady but suffered from delayed or cancelled projects in the second half of the year.

The company's average monthly staff total rose for the year to 1,908.

The company's highest-paid director took a 57% pay cut, taking home ВЈ230,000. Their pension contributions also fell 10% to ВЈ54,000 for the year.

T Clarke profit warning as MD DeFalco leavesJudge to rule on whether Visteon can cut retiree benefits

Friday, August 28, 2009

Network Rail to axe 1,800 maintenance jobs

Network Rail  is planning to cut up to 1,800 maintenance jobs in the latest big cost-cutting drive.

The rail infrastructure firm said the planned cuts were necessary because its budget for the next five years is being trimmed by ВЈ4bn. The jobs will be axed by April 2011, but Network Rail said it had yet to finalise numbers and timings.

A statement from Network Rail said: "We have a clear commitment to the British people to reduce the costs of running the railway." 

"Our plans to restructure our maintenance teams will improve the way we operate the network. We are discussing our plans with our people and their union representatives and no final decisions have been made."


Network Rail to axe 1,800 maintenance jobs


The firm, which currently employs a total of 33,000 people across the country, said it hoped to avoid any compulsory redundancies.

Earlier this week, Network Rail proposed the building of a new ВЈ34bn high-speed railway line linking Scotland and London by 2030.

The line would serve Birmingham and Manchester, getting passengers from Glasgow to London in just two hours and 16 minutes, the rail firm said.

However, the government, which would make any final decision, said assessments of the costs and environmental issues involved needed to be carried out before it could approve any plans.

The move, which amounts to about 5% of the workforce, is likely to reignite a safety row between the company and unions.

Stimulus funds to help VW plant in TennesseeSafety revamp after Balfour/Carillion bridge fall

Linford Group notches up £46m of contract wins

Linford Group has notched up recent contract wins totalling ВЈ46m, with new projects for both its building and restoration divisions.

As revealed last week in CJ, the firm is one of four contractors to win a spot Walsall Housing Group's ВЈ78m framework new build affordable housing framework.

Meanwhile Linford will be the main building contractor for several extra-care housing projects for Syniad, a consortium of Welsh housing associations, following its selection as a preferred contractor to the consortium earlier this year. 

The Syniad projects comprise a development of 60 properties at Jasmine Crescent, Mold, worth ВЈ8.5m, and a development of 31 properties at Hafan Glyd, Shotton, worth ВЈ2.7m.


Linford Group notches up £46m of contract wins


Meanwhile, planning permission is being sought for a ВЈ6m development of 56 affordable houses near Flint, which again will be built by Linford.

The firm's restotation arm is also about to start the next phase of the restoration of Grade I-listed Stowe House, the famous public school in Buckingham. The phase, worth £3.7m, will be repairing the South façade of the Eastern Elevation of the Building, and replacing the library roof.

Ardmore wins to boost turnoverNashville area hoteliers can’t get money for growth

Lavendon posts £40m pre-tax loss

Access specialist Lavendon Group has posted a ВЈ40m pre-tax loss in the first half of the year compared with a ВЈ12m profit in the same period in 2008.

The loss was caused by £43m of exceptionals for the impairment of goodwill, asset write downs and restructuring costs in its UK and European operations. However, the underlying performance shows a pre-tax profit of £5.3m – more than 60% down from £14.3m last year.

Despite a marked fall in revenue (from £65m to £52m) Lavendon’s UK operations are still the biggest sector in the group but operating profit more than halved £4.4m and some £10m of exceptionals turned this into a £7m loss. Finance director Alan Merrell said within the exceptionals is £9m of write downs on around 1,500 surplus machines that will be sold off within a year and the company expects annualised cost savings of around £11m following the integration of the various UK businesses.


Lavendon posts £40m pre-tax loss


Spain, where the recession in the housing and construction industry has been particularly acute, recorded a 30% fall in revenue to ВЈ5m and suffered more than 90% fall in pre-tax profit (to ВЈ42,000) meaning there was little to offset the ВЈ13m of exceptionals feeding directly through to a loss.

Business levels in Germany climbed slightly to £26m but profit slumped by two thirds to £1m with a £9.4m exceptional charge helping plunge the business into an £8.6m loss – similar to that in Belgium which recorded a 16% fall in turnover to £7.7m, a 30% decline in profit to £1.6m and £9.7m of exceptionals.

Only the Middle East recorded growth with revenue increasing by more than 75% to ВЈ16.9m and pre-tax profit doubled to ВЈ6.7m which, without exceptionals, fed through to the bottom line.

The company slashed capital expenditure by a factor of eight to under ВЈ5m in the first half allowing it to reduce net debt by more than ВЈ30m to ВЈ273m which it says is well within its banking covenants. In the City Lavendon shared fell 8p to 168p. 

Looking forward Merrell said the markets do not appear to be getting more difficult but he was uncertain whether the seasonal second half increase in business would materialise this year.

Report analyses big plant owners’ performanceGenesco posts $2.7 million second quarter net loss

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Government green lights 60MW biomass plant

The government has today given the green light for a new 60MW biomass plant at Tilbury Docks in Essex.

The move leaves client Tilbury Green Power, part of Express Energy Holdings, clear to start construction.

Works are expected to take up to three years to complete, creating 380 jobs. The plant is expected to sustain 120 jobs once operational.

Energy and Climate Change minister Lord Hunt said:

“If we are to tackle climate change we must reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and also make use of renewable sources of fuel. This power station will achieve both those objectives by turning waste into energy and using biomass, which will also contribute to delivering the UK’s renewable energy targets.

Proposals to construct power stations with a capacity greater than 50 MW requires the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change’s consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989.

£500m Teesport power plan agreedNissan’s Smyrna plant to use methanol to cut costs

Blacklist protest at O'Rourke site

Building workers who claim they are being denied jobs because of an illegal blacklist have protested outside a ВЈ350m shopping development.

The men believe their union activities are being used against them by firms involved in the Rock Triangle project in Bury, Greater Manchester.

They were among 3,213 workers named on an illegal database which was exposed in court last month.

Laing O'Rourke, main contractor at the site, has denied the claims.

A spokesman told the BBC: "We do not discriminate against any individuals for any reason in their employment and that is the clear policy across all our business units." 

O'Rourke was one of more than 40 contractors which paid for access to the database of 3,213 workers run by businessman Ian Kerr, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said.


Blacklist protest at ORourke site


He was fined ВЈ5,000 at Knutsford Crown Court in July after pleading guilty in May to breaching the Data Protection Act.

The database included names, dates of birth, national insurance numbers and details of whether an individual had any connection to trade union activity.

Its operation was suspended under the data protection laws and further regulations to outlaw such secret blacklists are to be introduced later in 2009.

But local workers protesting outside the Rock Triangle project on Thursday claimed they had been denied work on the site because of their appearance on the database.

The massive development, which covers 50,000 square metres, will bring shops, restaurants and 400 apartments to the town and is due to open next summer.

Colin Trousedale, from Bury, has 35 years experience in the electrical contracting industry but has been refused a job on the site.

"It's a local site to me. I would like employment on the site and I'm being blatantly refused. I feel it is by virtue of the fact I am on the blacklist," he said.

"Because of my past as a trade union representative I am persona non grata on these sites. They just won't allow me on the sites.

"How do I feed my family? How do I pay my bills? I can't. I'm on benefits by virtue of the fact I've stood up and said this is wrong."

Sacked Kosovans spur union into actionJudge to rule on whether Visteon can cut retiree benefits

Top 5 construction tenders - 27 August 2009

This week's top five construction tenders include the tunnelling works for Crossrail, a ВЈ1bn maintenance package for the Ministry of Justice and a ВЈ22m theatre in Liverpoool. The details are only a summary of what's available, for the full OJEU click on the link.

London: Tunnelling

Value: tba Crossrail Limited (CRL) has put a package of major tunnelling works for the ВЈ16bn Crossrail project out to tender. The work, split into two lots, will involve the construction of a series of 6.2m-internal diameter twin-bored tunnels under central London, approximately 21km in length. Deadline: 28 September

UK: Facilities management

Value: ВЈ400m - ВЈ1bn The Ministry of Justice is looking for up to 10 contractors to manage its UK wide portfolio of buildings across a four year period. The exhaustive list of work includes fabric and m&e maintenance, plumbing packages, landscaping and signage. Deadline: 17 SeptemberADVERTISEMENT

Top 5 construction tenders - 27 August 2009


Yeovil: Housing maintenance

Value: ВЈ25m-ВЈ30m Yarlington Property Management is advertising for a contractor to carry out planned maintenance across its 8,000 homes. The work on the properties in Somerset will take place over a 10 year period and includes roofing, doors, landscaping works, joinery, kitchens and bathrooms. Deadline: 30 September

Liverpool: Theatre construction

Value: ВЈ22.6m The Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust is looking for contractors to build one theatre and refurbish another. The Everyman theatre is still on the drawing board while the Playhouse threatre requires refurbishment. Work will begin in November and is expected to be complete in 2016. Deadline: 9 September

Croydon: College construction

Value: ВЈ14m Croydon College is advertising phase 2 of its construction project. The contract will be design and build and the college is looking to achieve a BREEAM very good rating. Deadline: 4 September

Nashville area hoteliers can’t get money for growthTop 5 construction tenders - 20 August 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Costain targets nuclear and waste as order book climbs 25%

Costain has boosted its order book by 25% to a record ВЈ2.5bn, as it exploited growing opportunities in the water, nuclear and waste sectors.

Revenue at the firm has increased substantially to ВЈ508.2m (ВЈ467.5m), but pre-tax profit fell by a third to ВЈ6.9m for the period (ВЈ10.1m).

The news came as the contractor published its interim results for the half year to 30 June 2009.

The company blamed the fall in profits on increased pension charges and a sharp drop in interest rates which reduced its income generated from its "strong" cash balance. The firm's net cash positiion stands at ВЈ119.2m, down from ВЈ133.2m in June 2008.

Costain also signalled a retreat from its building operations in the health, education and retail sectors. It said that its Community division, which operates in those markets would be "scaled down to re-allocate resources to more attractive opportunities".


Costain targets nuclear and waste as order book climbs 25%


Those opportunities include the water sector where Ofwat has a projected capital spend of ВЈ20bn for 2010-15; waste, where there will be an estimated spend of ВЈ30bn to 2030 as the sector strives to meet UK and EU recycling targets; and nuclear where there is an estimated ВЈ3bn-a-year decommissioning spend and the prospect of new build projects.

Commenting on the results, chairman David Allvey said: "“As well as in established sectors such as water and highways, our strategy is also providing significant opportunities in new business areas, such as nuclear and waste, where tendering activity is increasing.

“We therefore entered the second half of the year with a record order book, robust finances and a net cash balance in excess of £100m. We look forward to reporting continued progress at the year-end in line with the Board’s expectations.”

Civil Engineering - overall

These operations represent over 85% of Costain’s order book.

Civils – environment

Revenue was up to ВЈ223.4m (ВЈ175.9m), with an operating profit of ВЈ7.8m (ВЈ3.7m).

Civils - infrastructure

Revenue climbed to ВЈ164m (ВЈ106.9m), with an operating profit of ВЈ6.8m (ВЈ8.1m).

Building - community

Revenue down 47% to ВЈ77.7m (ВЈ146.9m), with an operating loss of ВЈ5.2m. Order book reduced to ВЈ0.15bn and now represents just 6% of the group's total.

Engineering and project management

Revenue of ВЈ42.5m (ВЈ37.2m), with an operating profit of ВЈ2.7m (ВЈ1.8m).

Land development

Revenue of ВЈ0.6m (ВЈ0.6m). Post-tax loss of ВЈ0.7m (ВЈ0.6m).

Nashville-based prison operator CCA will get new CEOStrategic Team Group turnover up 20%

Fraud cops probe UK overseas deals

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is phone-tapping and placing firms under surveillance as it targets UK contractors it suspects of being involved in fraud overseas.

The news comes as the SFO makes the industry a priority, after its involvement in a string of construction-related cases.

The SFO has assisted the OFT in its bid-rigging work, prosecuted Mabey and Johnson for overseas corruption and recovered ВЈ2.25m from Balfour Beatty for financial irregularities on a project in Egypt.

Now it plans to send a letter to major contractors on 1 September, reminding directors of their responsibilities, Contract Journal has learned.

The letter also warns that the proposed Bribery Bill, which aims to make it a criminal offence to give or offer a bribe in the UK or abroad, "will have a very significant impact if it is enacted".


Fraud cops probe UK overseas deals


SFO director Richard Alderman confirmed the organisation was focusing on contractors and has had "reports in relation to fraud concerning the construction industry in the UK."

He added: "We have put a lot of resource into anti-corruption and are building the team up to 100 people, as well as having recruited an experienced head of construction.

"We are looking at using more intrusive powers and have the powers for telephone intercepts and surveillance. There are some cases where we are doing it."

The letter is seen by the SFO as giving contractors a chance to discuss any concerns they may have and toughen up their defences, but also serves as a warning.

"I'm very interested in finding out who could have reported but didn't," Alderman said. "If that happens I want to consider taking them through the criminal process."

UKCG director Stephen Ratcliffe said that contractors were already observing good practice.

He added: "It's not dissimilar to the OFT investigation. It's not a defence for directors to turn a blind eye and members are aware of this.

"UKCG will hold a series of seminars in the autumn to familiarise contractors with the mechanisms they need to have in place to conform."

в—Џ Two leading trade bodies launched a code of conduct last week to prevent contractors running into further trouble with competition watchdogs.

The National Federation of Builders and UK Contractors Group have jointly launched the code in the wake of the Office of Fair Trading investigation into price fixing in the industry.

The code highlights the need for construction companies to have rigorous internal procedures to prevent anti-competitive practices.

For those companies that have not yet established internal compliance regimes, the code will be backed up with guidance and training.

The code was launched ahead of a decision on fines in September following the OFT probe.

Industry bigwigs attack college chaosFormer AIG chief, others settle suit for $115 million

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Persimmon bullish despite profits slump

Persimmon believes the housing market is stabilising despite pre-tax profits slumping to ВЈ9.8m for the six months to June 30 from ВЈ36.9m last year.

Total sales were also down to ВЈ612m from ВЈ998m but recent indications from site show prices have stopped falling and buyers are coming back.

The group said: "Sales in the historically quieter summer weeks have held up well and are ahead of our expectations. In recent weeks visitor levels have exceeded those of last year whilst cancellation rates have been significantly lower."

Forward sales since July 1 are forecast to hit ВЈ910m compared to ВЈ836m last year with an average selling price for homes reserved since July of ВЈ174,000 - up from ВЈ163,650 over the same period in 2008.


Persimmon bullish despite profits slump


Cost cuts at the group are expected to save ВЈ50m per year but the firm added "we expect that margin recovery to more normal levels will take some more time to achieve."

John White, Group Chairman said: "We expect sales rates to remain resilient due to the successful destocking that has occurred in the industry combined with the continuing good levels of underlying demand for new homes in the UK.

"Recently, selling prices have stabilised in most parts of mainland UK. Future volume increases and price movements will be dependent upon mortgage availability, job prospects and the health of the general economy.

"Our strong balance sheet, reduced debt, long landbank and strategic land opportunities, combined with an experienced management team provides an excellent platform to create value for shareholders."

Lovell wins £24m social housing dealStocks tumble amid investors’ worries

Two builders receive crush injuries in wall collapse

Two builders received suspected crush injuries after a wall collapsed at a house in Wiltshire.

One of the men was reported to have been trapped just after 0845 BST in Chirton, near Devizes, according to the BBC.

The other man managed to jump clear of the wall.

Both builders were taken to Salisbury District Hospital.

Ambulance officer David Wilmot, from Great Western Ambulance Service, said: "On arrival at the scene one man remained in the path of the unstable wall so I decided I would need to do a snatch rescue and move the man before any more of the building collapsed."

Yorkon takes £2.8m hospital jobNashville company starts work on hospital in China

Swine flu staff shortages: your rights

Few contracts deal with pandemic-induced labour shortages, so it's worth knowing what rights you have for an extension of time should swine flu strike. By Richard Ward, head of construction, Eversheds

Swine flu has arrived. The latest Department of Health figures confirm that domestically there are around 100,000 reported cases of swine flu per week. Our own research at Eversheds reveals that 72% of employers have already suffered absenteeism due to the pandemic.

Employers must consider the health and welfare of their staff. The effects of flu symptoms on a machinery operative's performance could be every bit as serious as the effects of alcohol or drugs. Policies must be in place to prevent those employees who are genuinely ill from working, for their own welfare and that of their colleagues. Employers owe duties to both. General guidance to employers can be found at on the HSE website.


your rights


Medical experts have anticipated that with the normal winter increases in viral infection, the rates of staff absence could reach 15% of the workforce. This figure factors in the new extended self-certified sickness provisions, absence due to caring responsibilities and the concerns of the "worried well".

Eversheds' survey of more than 420 businesses and organisations across the UK showed widespread concern over the potential future implications of employee absenteeism, with 38% of businesses believing they will lose revenue and one in five (21%) indicating they expect to have to close or part close premises.

Natural tension

There is a natural tension between keeping those who are ill off site and mitigating the problems of short-term sickness, including the resulting cost of absenteeism. A sudden and unforeseeable labour shortage will inevitably have an impact on productivity and a company's ability to perform its contractual obligations.

Recuperating project and contract managers should be reaching for their force majeure clauses as the Tamiflu kicks in. There is no common law right of force majeure relief. It is derived from civil law, but most construction contracts (and indeed contracts generally) now provide some relief from obligations to parties for the occurrence of events outside their control. These events can be generally defined, or very specific, and typically excuse a party from liability under the contract where it is prevented from performing, for example by entitling a contractor to an extension of time.

It is unlikely that there will be drafting in many contracts (at least historically) that deals specifically with pandemic-induced labour shortages. However, such scenarios could give rise to an entitlement under many building/engineering contracts and development agreements.

For example, it would certainly be worth a contractor's while running the argument for an extension of time under MF/1 (Model Form of General Conditions of Contract), which provides that: "If by reason of circumstances beyond the reasonable control of the contractor arising after acceptance of the tender, the contractor shall have been delayed in the completion of the works, then the engineer shall grant the contractor such extension of the time for completion as may be reasonable."

In the considered hypothetical example, if a 15% reduction in workforce numbers occurred after acceptance of tender, there will be a good argument for an entitlement to an extension of time.

A common caveat to force majeure clauses is that the event that occurs must not have been foreseeable when the contract was entered into. Given the extent of official and media warnings, for contracts entered into recently and going forward, forseeability drafting is likely to defeat many such claims.

Whatever the level of flu-like symptoms that may spread during the winter months, it will be difficult to argue that there was no real warning and that the risks were unforeseen. The director-general of the World Health Organisation recently suggested that swine flu will be the biggest pandemic ever.

An example of a forseeability test is in the GC works approach, where the following drafting qualifies the relief available: "Any other circumstances (not arising because of any default or neglect by the contractor or by any employee, agent or subcontractor of his, and any other than weather conditions), which are outside the control of the contractor or any of his subcontractors, and which could not have been reasonably contemplated under the contract."

This clause requires not only the occurrence of circumstances outside the control of the contractor, but also that it be a circumstance which could not have been reasonably contemplated. That most contracting parties could now reasonably be contemplating the possibility of widespread cases of flu is compelling. This is an onerous position as even if contemplated at the time of contracting, there is nothing a contractor can do to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.

Staff absences

While widespread re-drafting is probably not merited, there are types of contract where the prospect of staff absence should be carefully considered, for example emergency/critical services maintenance contracts or labour intensive contracts requiring specialised qualifications or staff pre-approval.

Could there be any positives? While increased illness levels will mostly be bad news for delivering projects, there could be some cases where the absence of people is of benefit. For example, one of the main productivity challenges on school or university projects is accommodating restricted access and working hours. The closure of such institutions could provide opportunities to accelerate delayed projects.

Businesses should check their sickness policies and take a close look at how the foreseeable occurrence of pandemic flu will be treated under their contracts, both with purchasers and suppliers.

Blacklisting scandal contractor in administrationNashville-based prison operator CCA will get new CEO

Monday, August 24, 2009

Laing O'Rourke turnover rises to ВЈ4.1bn

Laing O'Rourke has held on to its crown as the UK's largest private construction firm as it pushed its turnover up to ВЈ4.1bn (ВЈ3.6bn) for the year to 31 March 2009.

However, the contractor saw a more modest increase in its pre-tax profit to ВЈ85m (ВЈ81.2m), after it was dealt a ВЈ17.1m hit in the form of writedowns on its residential and mixed-use developments.

The bulk of the company's turnover, ВЈ2.5bn, came in Europe. The Middle East and Asia accounted for ВЈ828.7m, while ВЈ725.6m was generated in Australia.

Laing O'Rourke's order book now stands at ВЈ10bn, and ended the year with cash of ВЈ614.3m.

Chairman and chief executive Ray O'Rourke said: "We have achieved a more balanced portfolio of public and private clients, with a growing emphasis in the infrastructure sectors (particularly healthcare, education, energy and transport).

"As governments accelerate their investment programmes, we see opportunities to benefit in these important markets."

Laing O’Rourke takes half of all public sector work in JulyBailed-out companies face ‘pay czar’

Ministry of Justice releases ВЈ1bn maintenance package

The Ministry of Justice has released details of its ВЈ400m to ВЈ1bn facilities management framework.

It is looking for up to 10 contractors to manage its UK wide portfolio of buildings across a four year period.

The exhaustive list of work includes fabric and m&e maintenance, plumbing packages, landscaping and signage.

Expressions of interest need to be in by 17 September.

Read the full OJEU here.

Video ads will run inside U.S. magazineSES scoops major Woolwich M&E scheme

GB Building wins ВЈ30m Leeds hotel

A joint venture between GB Building Solutions and developer Oxford Hotels has obtained planning permission to build a new 244 bedroom hotel worth ВЈ30m in the centre of Leeds. 

Oxford GB will appoint a hotel operator imminently and it is anticipated that the hotel will take two years to build and should be open and running successfully by early 2012.

The hotel will be constructed by GB Building Solutions. Simon Wood, chairman of Oxford GB said: "Oxford GB’s aim is to provide a high quality hotel, right where it is most needed.  With so much development hotel rooms in Leeds will be in high demand, there is limited competition in this part of the city, and the planned concert arena is the icing on the cake.

"Achieving planning permission for a good quality hotel in this area means that we can provide much needed hotel accommodation right in the heart of Leeds, at a time that will tie in with greatly increased demand."


Go-ahead for £20m energy plantNashville area hoteliers can’t get money for growth

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Laing O'Rourke takes half of all public sector work in July

With public sector spending accounting for 60% of all work let in July, Laing O’Rourke topped the CJ50 table having secured over half the value of all deals available in the sector.

CJ50 contractors league for JulyRolling 12-month contractor league table

The majority of its £1.2bn worth of work came from the Barnsley Building Schools for the Future programme. As part of the £1.1bn deal Laing O’Rourke will build nine advanced learning centres and two special schools.

It also secured two healthcare schemes; the ВЈ100m West Cumberland Hospital and ВЈ20m South Petherton Hospital, helping the firm leapfrog Carillion into third place in the rolling 12-month total.

The total work let in July was ВЈ800m down on May and June as infrastructure spend slowed and commercial work dropped to ВЈ183m - its lowest monthly total in over a decade - while the housing and industrial sectors showed no signs of life.


Laing ORourke takes half of all public sector work in July


Costain came in second having secured £596m worth of work, almost all of which was in infrastructure. Like Laing O’Rourke, Costain managed to corner a valuable sector, also securing half of its spend. Its most significant win was a place on Severn Trent Water’s AMP 5 framework, worth £400m over its ten year life.

Although untouchable at the summit of the 12-month rolling total, Balfour Beatty slipped one place to third in July. It joined Costain as one of the few firms to register any major civils deals, having reached financial close on the ВЈ176m Carlisle Northern Development Route, a public private partnership concession contract for Cumbria County Council.

Moving up four places Morgan Sindall won 60 contracts worth ВЈ237m. Working in a joint venture with Hochtief it will deliver and ВЈ187m public service hub for Wigan, including leisure, health and learning facilities. It also secured a ВЈ71m factory for Airbus and the ВЈ37m Cardinal Heenan and Broughton Hall School in Liverpool.

Having not figured last month, Carillion came in at fifth with contracts worth ВЈ119m, the principle one being a ВЈ98m scheme to deliver HMP Low Moss in Scotland.

Elsewhere Wates took ВЈ86m worth of housing work, helping it secure sixth, while Interserve moved up to seventh having signed 14 contracts worth ВЈ93m.

Other noteworthy projects include a £67m college building in Westminster won by McLaren, Leadbitter’s £20m BSF scheme in Kent and the £32m Bexhill to Hastings link road secured by Vinci.

Balfour Beatty celebrates topping CJ50 for table 2008Tennessee’s jobless rate is worse than it looks

Five in hunt for £25m decent homes job

Five firms are vying for a ВЈ25m Decent Homes contract for Ashfield District Council in Nottingham.

Frank Haslam Milan, Henry Boot, Herbert T Forrest, Kier and Lovell are all thought to have had an interview with the Ashfield Homes ALMO last week.

It is not yet known when an award for the job will be made, but work is set to start in November.

The works involve the replacement of kitchens, bathrooms and central heating, as well as electrical rewiring on around 7,000 council-owned properties within the borough.

The contract is set to last until March 2012, with an option to extend for a further 36 months at 12-monthly intervals.

Lovell wins £24m social housing dealHome auctions increasingly help banks shed foreclosures

Friday, August 21, 2009

T Clarke profits tumble as contractor implements restructuring plan

Electrical contractor T Clarke reported a sharp drop in first-half pre-tax profits after taking a ВЈ1.4m charge for its restructuring programme.

The London-based contractor, which said last month it was initiating a strategic review of the group and would not meet current market expectations for the year, saw pre-tax profit fall to ВЈ3.1m in the six month ended 30 June from ВЈ5.4m last time.

Revenue was also lower at ВЈ95.8m compared with ВЈ109.3m last time.

T Clarke’s restructuring programme involved big headcount reductions and the closure or disposal of two small regional businesses.

The group is currently winding down its operations in Altrincham to operate through its Preston business. It is also negotiating the sale of its Birmingham business.


T Clarke profits tumble as contractor implements restructuring plan


The largest staff cuts were at the core London operations where a number of office projects have completed or are near to completion. Revenue from the core London operations dropped 10.5% in the six months and operating margin was 3.7% after redundancy and other provisions of ВЈ0.9m.

The London forward order book is ВЈ100m, of which ВЈ35m is scheduled for completion this year.

Pat Stanborough, chief executive said: "This has been a tough six months for T. Clarke and we have not been immune from the recession. The Board has acted prudently in reducing overheads to align resource with current workload."

"Our order book remains strong, however, and enquiry levels are picking up especially in the regions. We have ВЈ170m of work in the group's pipeline, ВЈ75m of which is due for completion this year with ВЈ35m in London alone.

He added: "We are still winning new business around the country and we are on the tender list for a significant amount of future work."

T Clarke profit warning as MD DeFalco leavesStocks tumble amid investors’ worries

Bovis bounces back with healthy UK profits

Strong contributions from Bovis' London 2012 Athlete's Village project and BP Alliance contract helped the construction arm of Lend Lease bounce back with the first set of healthy UK profits for three years.

Worldwide Bovis raised pre-tax profits 25% to ВЈ126.7m despite still being adversely affected by the workout of UK projects where loss provisions were taken in previous years.

Strong contributions from the Olympic Village job, Peel Media City mixed use project in Salford and the central St Giles office development in London saw pre-tax profits at the European division of Bovis jump from ВЈ17.3m to ВЈ31.4m on a steady turnover of ВЈ1.7bn.

Bovis Lend Lease EBITDA profit by regionADVERTISEMENT

Bovis bounces back with healthy UK profits


Region June 09  June 08 Europe ВЈ31.4m ВЈ17.3m Asia Pacific ВЈ68.6m ВЈ48.9m Americas ВЈ26.4m ВЈ35.2m

Turnover by region

Region  June 09 June 08 Europe ВЈ1.7bn


 Asia Pacific ВЈ1.5bn ВЈ1.4bn Americas ВЈ3.0bn ВЈ3.0bn

Bovis's global construction and project management operations now represent a key part of the Lend Lease business, accounting for 40% of overall profits.

Big overhead cuts before Christmas and strong orders mainly for education projects saw Bovis raise gross margins from 4.7% to 5.2%

Turnover remained  flat at ВЈ6.3bn in the year to June 2009. But Bovis said it had a strong project pipeline which would support long term earnings potential, as it beefs up its infrastructure project work backed by government stimulus spending.

Bovis' project management contract to maintain BP service stations across will run to 2014 with a total construction value of ВЈ800m. The other two big projects include the management contract to build the ВЈ450m Peel Media City at Salford Quays, due to complete in in two years and the MOD slam project running to 2013.

Profits in the US were hit by a fire at its Deutsche Bank job in New York.

Murray Coleman, ceo of Bovis Lend Lease, picked up ВЈ600,000 in salary, bonuses and allowances as a result of the upturn in Bovis' fortunes.

PFI investments operating as a separate division turned over ВЈ760m, creating an operating profit of ВЈ35m.

Overall net operating profit at the parent property development group Lend Lease fell 30% to ВЈ155m. After property write downs this translated to a stautory loss of ВЈ329m. Lend Lease booked a net gain of ВЈ16m as a result of closing the Bovis pension scheme.

Steve McCann, Lend Lease group ceo said: "Lend Leas has performed well despite very challenging market conditions. However Lend Lease is not a distressed seller of assets and we will only sell assets where we believe it will optimise longer term shareholder value."



Olympic cost controllers CLM paid £151m in fees and bonusesNashville area hoteliers can’t get money for growth

Four Newcastle school jobs get green light to start work

The second phase of Newcastle’s ВЈ220 million Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme has been given the вЂgreen light’ by government.

The financial close gives the go-ahead to Sir Robert McAlpine, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Robertson Capital Projects to start work on four city schools. They are the partners of the local education partnership Aura Newcastle.

Financial close on the other four schools making up the second phase is expected later this year.

All eight schools are due to open their doors by the end of 2012, bringing the total number of BSF schools in Newcastle to 16.

“The second phase of our BSF programme will transform a further eight secondary and specialist schools across the city,” said Kirsty Thirlwell, Aura Newcastle’s chief executive.


Four Newcastle school jobs get green light to start work


“This builds on the success of the programme’s first phase, which has already delivered eight schools in the city.”

The four schools are Gosforth High School, the largest in the second phase with nearly 1,800 pupils, St Cuthbert’s RC School and special schools, Trinity Dene View and Trinity Oakfield.

Aura is delivering and part-funding the Newcastle BSF programme. It is also designing, building and maintaining the schools and has already delivered more new BSF schools across the country than any other local education partnership.

Tennessee’s jobless rate is worse than it looksCarillion reaches financial close on £500m Durham BSF

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Safety revamp after Balfour/Carillion bridge fall

Rail experts are recommending a shake-up in safety on civil engineering sites following today's publication of a report into an accident at London's Liverpool Street station when a train hit debris which had fallen from a bridge under construction.

The Rail Accident Investigation Board probe centred on an incident in May 2008 when a train collided with concrete planks lying on the track.

The concrete had fallen from a bridge built by a Balfour Beatty/Carillion joint venture following the failure of supports at one end of the bridge deck.

This failure caused a sudden jolt which shook the deck, dislodging the concrete planks.  Damage to the train was minor and there were no injuries.


Safety revamp after Balfour/Carillion bridge fall


Concern over the stability of the bridge resulted in the signaller stopping all other trains in the vicinity. It was some hours before the safety of the structure could be assured, and services did not recommence until the following day.

Investigators found that the concrete fell because of :

• the unexpected movement of the bridge deck which was positioned on a steep gradient and inadequately restrained;

• an inadequately planned operation to restore the deck to its correct position.  This involved modification to the temporary supports and caused them to become unstable; and

• the decision to omit a recommended connection between individual pre-cast concrete planks, which allowed the planks to fall from the deck when it was exposed to a large jolt, and fall onto the track;

The report said a contributory factor was "Balfour Beatty/Carillion's decision to delegate responsibility for temporary works checks to Fairfield Mabey, which meant they lost visibility of how the structure was performing, or of measures being taken to correct the horizontal movement." Since the incident, the bridge has been repaired and completed.

As a consequence of this accident, the RAIB has made seven recommendations, targeted at Network Rail, Health and Safety Executive, London Underground Limited, Rail for London, the Heritage Rail Association, the Light Rail Engineering Group, Northern Ireland Railways and National Express East Anglia, the operator of the train. These recommendations cover the following areas:

• Safety Management Systems and procedures, to satisfactorily approve construction work on or over operational railways.

• procedures so that information is available to operations staff where construction activities might affect the safety of the railway.

• the expansion of the Network Rail’s National Emergency Plan in the light of this incident.

• the wider promulgation of issues identified from this incident amongst the civil engineering community.

• the enhancement of incident management training given to operations staff.

Murfreesboro’s Broad St. bridge repair is completeBuild Center worker killed by sheet of glass

CJ50 contracts league: July 2009

Contract Journal's league table of the construction companies who have won the most contracts in the past month.

PositionPrevious monthContractorNo of contractsTotal17Laing O'Rourke *31,220.0024Costain7596.4532Balfour Beatty62287.1048Morgan Sindall60237.905-Carillion18119.80617Wates2096.18710Interserve Projects1493.05815Vinci Construction Ltd2387.7995Willmott Dixon1486.361022McLaren Construction586.21113Kier2980.60121Skanska861.93136Rok2952.931421BAM Nuttall750.041523BAM Construct345.001631Bowmer & Kirkland1343.481714ISG3441.801827Volker Wessels UK1437.0019-GB Building Solutions534.3420-Lakehouse1133.912125Caddick119.502216Apollo Group717.302332Morrison Utility Services616.8724-Clugston312.702538Breyer Group1412.352642C Spencer411.102728Thomas Vale1810.022826FM Conway39.3029-Buckingham Group119.043011Sisk27.443119Mulalley & Co Ltd17.003235Jackson Civil Engineering *16.00339Galliford Try65.103433SDC Construction45.0035-Rydon14.2036-Hall Construction33.053737Osborne33.003836Midas Group102.953944Watkin Jones12.5040-Togel*12.2041-Kingerlee*12.0042-Longcross Group*12.0043-Molloy & Lynskey*12.0044-Raynesway*22.0045-SURGO*12.0046-WW Martin (Thanet)*12.0047-Walter Thompson*12.0048-Dyer & Butler61.674948Wildgoose Construction Ltd11.505034Tolent30.73Totals for July 20094973,576.36*Information taken from Barbour-ABI database

Turnover plummets 40% at A&H Construction & DevelopmentSchool fees, health costs cancel fall in other prices

Top 5 construction tenders - 20 August 2009

This week's top five construction tenders include a ВЈ1.5bn radioactive waste treatment facility for Sellafield, a ВЈ300m highways framework in the Midlands and a ВЈ30m hotel for the Rose Bowl cricket ground. The details are only a summary of what's available, for the full OJEU click on the link.

Sellafield: Treatment facility

Value: ВЈ250m-ВЈ1.5bn Sellafield has put out to tender the design and build of a plant to handle radioactive effluent on the site. The construction of the highly active liquid effluent facility, thought to be the largest deal so far in Sellafield's decommissioning, includes the construction of a new build facility to accommodate new high active storage tanks with associated process plant. Deadline: 9 OctoberADVERTISEMENT

Top 5 construction tenders - 20 August 2009


Leicester: Highways framework

Value: ВЈ125m-ВЈ300m Leicestershire County Council is advertising for contractors to join the Midlands Highway Alliance Medium Schemes Framework 1 (MSF1). It is looking for four contractors to take on the infrastructure work across the Midlands over four years from April 2010. Deadline: 19 October

London: Highway maintenance

Value: ВЈ38mEaling Council is looking for a contractor to perform maintenance and civil engineering works across the borough. The work is split into two lots. One, worth ВЈ17.5m is for highway maintenance and the other, worth ВЈ21m, is for minor civil engineering work. Deadline: 17 September

Eastleigh: Hotel Construction

Value: ВЈ30mEastleight Borough Council plans to build a hotel at the Rose Bowl cricket ground. It is advertising for a developer to acquire the land and design and build a hotel that will achieve a four star rating. Deadline: 1 September

Bath: Transport network

Value: ВЈ22mA rapid transit bus system is planned for bath together with a network throughout the city. The work is split into four lots including the design and build of a dedicated off road bus route, a new park and ride car park, a rapid transit bus route and associated city centre improvement works.Deadline: 2 September

Nashville area hoteliers can’t get money for growthTurnover plummets 40% at A&H Construction & Development

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Build Center worker killed by sheet of glass

A man was killed when he was struck by a sheet of glass while working at a Build Center warehouse in Derby.

The BBC reported that health and safety officials are now carrying out inquiries at the building in Ascot Drive to discover the cause of the accident.

The Wolseley-owned Build Center it was "shocked and saddened" by the incident.

The statement said: "We can confirm there was a fatal accident involving an employee at our Glass Center branch in Derby on Tuesday.

"We are extremely shocked and saddened by this tragic incident, and our thoughts and sincere sympathies are with the employee's family.

"We are cooperating fully with the relevant authorities with their investigations into this tragic incident."

"The safety of our employees is paramount to Build Center and we have had an excellent track record in this area. We are also conducting our own thorough investigation into what is believed to be the company's first workplace fatality."

Psychiatric Solutions selling business unit for $70 millionCivil engineering accidents at record low

Cowlin profitable again in first year in Balfour's hands

Cowlin Construction has moved back into the black with a pre-tax profit of ВЈ6m, its first full-year results since it was swallowed up by Balfour Beatty in September 2007 showed.

Cowlin's turnover for the year to 31 December 2008 stood at ВЈ196m, lower than the ВЈ255.8m it recorded for the 15 months to 31 December 2007. However 2008's turnover did not include Cowlin's Southampton office, which was transferred into Balfour Beatty Construction early that year.

Despite that the firm still returned to profitability, having registered a ВЈ5.5m pre-tax loss in the 15 months to 31 December 2007 following acquisition write-downs.

The company's highest-paid director received ВЈ159,181 for the year, compared to ВЈ448,445 in the previous 15 months.

Average monthly staff headcount was also down to 443, from 452 in the previous 15 months.

Balfour Beatty celebrates topping CJ50 for table 2008Murfreesboro’s Broad St. bridge repair is complete

Blacklisting scandal contractor in administration

Keighley-based mechanical and electrical contractor SIAS Building Services has gone into administraiton with the loss of 136 jobs.

The 42-year-old firm, which has a turnover of ВЈ35m, hit the headlines earlier this month after it was one of 14 companies to be slapped with and enforcement notice by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) banning it from using personal data about workers supplied by blacklist boss Ian Kerr.

But administrators from Deloitte blamed the company's demise on over-expansion, rather than the fallout from the blacklising scandal.

Adrian Berry, Ian Brown and Neil Matthews of Deloitte were appointed joint administrators of both SIAS Building Services and its non-trading parent company SIAS Holdings last week.


Blacklisting scandal contractor in administration


Neil Matthews said: “SIAS experienced rapid growth recently and incurred losses from a number of contract problems which, combined with a high level of overheads, has impacted on cash flow and has caused breaches in its banking facilities.  SIAS had also received a number of winding up petitions.  As a result, the directors had little alternative but to place SIAS and SIAS Holdings Limited into Administration.

“It is the Joint Administrators’ intentions to secure a buyer for the ВЈ4m turnover maintenance business which currently has approximately 30 employees.  Discussions are in progress with clients and main contractors on the contracting side of the business to see if there is any prospect of assigning or novating any of the ongoing contracts.”

Before the move to administration, SIAS employed 178 staff across six locations nationwide. 

It has recently been involved in several contracts for the Village Hotels leisure chain and is currently working as a subcontractor on a ВЈ14.5m project to build a new hotel in Solihull for main contractor ISG.

Nashville-based prison operator CCA will get new CEOTurnover plummets 40% at A&H Construction & Development

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Carillion reaches financial close on £500m Durham BSF

Carillion has reached financial close on the ВЈ500m Durham BSF project, alongside its jv partners.

The Local Education Partnership (LEP) comprising Durham County Council, Building Schools for the Future Investments LLP (BSFI) and Carillion, will deliver over 40 schools in four waves over the 10-year contract period. 

The first wave of nine schools, which comprises seven secondary schools, one special educational needs (SEN) school and one primary school, has a combined capital cost of approximately ВЈ110m and will be completed by September 2012. 

Three schools in the first wave will be privately financed by a combination of borrowing and equity.  Barclays and Nationwide will each provide ВЈ26.5mn of the ВЈ53m of debt finance required. The LEP shareholders will invest ВЈ5.8m of equity in the project, of which Carillion’s share will be ВЈ4.6m. The firm will also provide facilities management services for the three privately financed schools, worth approximately ВЈ25m over the 25-year concession period.


Carillion reaches financial close on £500m Durham BSF


The three subsequent waves of the Durham BSF programme will deliver the remaining schools with an estimated capital cost of ВЈ390m. 

Carillion chief executive, John McDonough, said: “The major investment being made in Durham will provide the County with over 40 outstanding new schools.  We look forward to working closely with Durham County Council, its head teachers and their staff, to provide the facilities they need to deliver a first class learning experience for students.”

Stimulus funds to help VW plant in TennesseeBAM Nuttall takes £20m Fareham bus route job

Halcrow set to cut 270 jobs

Consultant Halcrow is set to cut almost 270 jobs across the UK and Ireland as its struggles with "continuing economic difficulties".

The firm has started a 30-day consultation period with staff due to declining workloads.

A company statement said: “While there is growing discussion in the media, and among economic commentators, that the wider economic situation might be improving, it is Halcrow’s belief that the engineering consultancy sector will continue to see reduced activity, or perhaps even a further deterioration, through 2010 and beyond. With this in mind, Halcrow needs to take action to properly balance its resourcing with its current and anticipated work load.”

Chief executive Peter Gammie said: “It is extremely regrettable that we have had to go down this route. Since the early days of the global economic downturn, we have worked hard to minimise the effect of recession on Halcrow. However, we can no longer sustain current staffing levels.


Halcrow set to cut 270 jobs


“This difficult decision was not made lightly and throughout the consultation period, we will make every possible effort to reduce the number of redundancies and assist where we can with people’s personal arrangements. As a business, we remain focused on our long-term well being and on our clients and on their day-to-day requirements for the delivery of their projects.”

Robinson & Sawdon restructuresUnemployed short on opportunities, benefits

BAM Nuttall takes £20m Fareham bus route job

BAM Nuttall has won a ВЈ20m contract to build phase one of the South East Hampshire Bus Rapid Transit route.

BAM fought off competition from Carillion, Colas, Dean & Dyball and Osborne to work on the scheme, which received planning permission last month.

The works involve the construction of a 4.7km single carriageway road from Fareham to Gosport. They also include installation and diversion of services, a sustainable water surface drainage network and bus shelters with cycle storage.

The project is set to take two years to complete.

Yorkon takes £2.8m hospital jobNashville area hoteliers can’t get money for growth

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yorkon takes £2.8m hospital job

Off-site construction firm and Portakabin subsidiary Yorkon has won a ВЈ2.8m contract to build new hospital facilities in Cardiff for Interserve Project Services.

The three-storey scheme at the University Hospital of Llandough will provide an outpatients department which will be constructed and fitted out off site. 

Construction will take 31 weeks and is due for completion by the end of this year.

The building will comprise 45 steel-framed modules manufactured in York and craned into position in just one week.

Turnover plummets 40% at A&H Construction & DevelopmentMurfreesboro’s Broad St. bridge repair is complete

Building falls on high-reach excavator during demolition - VIDEO

A high-reach excavator in the US has been covered in falling debris after the building it was attempting to demolish gave way.

The footage, which came from Volvo and was posted onto youtube by, shows huge amounts of rubble cover the machine.

The operator was not injured apart from a few minor cuts and bruises, according to blogger John Woodward.

Not drowning but dozing - PHOTOPsychiatric Solutions selling business unit for $70 million

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Haymills in administration

Haymills has entered administration this afternoon ahead of an expected deal which will see Vinci buy parts of the business.

A spokesman for the company has confirmed that PricewaterhouseCoopers is handling the administration of the firm, and that a deal is likely to be struck later this afternoon. Once again, however, the spokesman would not confirm the nature of that deal or who the buyer is expected to be.

Follow for more news on Haymills' fate.

Not drowning but dozing - PHOTOCorker bill gives more say-so to regulators

Workloads fall again despite spending boost

Construction workloads are still falling in every part of the construction industry apart from non-housing public sector work which has benefited from government cash.

That's the finding if the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) construction market survey.

The survey shows that construction workloads have now remained in negative territory for five consecutive quarters, with 26% more surveyors reporting a fall rather than a rise in overall workloads up from a net balance of -45% in the first quarter.

But it was better news in non-housing public sector work where surveyors reported the most positive level of workloads since the fourth quarter of 2007 as increases in state spending filter through to education and other areas. RICS said there were also "tentative" signs of increased spending having an impact in public housing and infrastructure.


Workloads fall again despite spending boost


Meanwhile RICS said the outlook for the next 12 months is still "depressed", although less so than it was for the previous quarter.

Commenting, Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist said:

“Activity is still declining across the construction sector but state spending is providing some much needed support for the construction industry with public sector works reaping the benefits. The improvement in news flow also appears to be filtering through to the private housing sector although workloads are still falling. Against this backdrop, the employment picture will deteriorate further with more redundancies likely to be announced in the sector over the balance of this year.”

Strategic Team Group turnover up 20%Experts point out where good buys might be

Hochtief pre-tax profit falls 11%

German-owned construction group Hochtief has seen its pre-tax profit for the first half of 2009 fall 2009, compared to the same period a year ago.

But its European operations bucked the trend, with an ВЈ8.7m profit, compared to a ВЈ22m loss in H1 2008.

Overall Hochtief said that it remained "rock steady" throughout the recession and stood on "very sound foundations". And it pointed to a ВЈ28.6bn order book - 4% higher than the same period a year ago.

The group predicted that its order book and group sales would steady at normal levels below 2008 figures.

Strategic Team Group turnover up 20%Music gear mecca’s siren song wanes

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Olympic roads logistics centres go live

The Olympic Delivery Authority’s (ODA’s) road logistics centres that manage deliveries to the Olympic Park are now fully operational.

The news comes as the site gets ready for the busiest phase in the project over the next 18 months.
The M11 Logistics Centre takes vehicles from the north and west of the UK and has processed 5,000 vehicles to date.  The Barking Logistics Centre takes vehicles from the south and east of the country and has now processed nearly 15,000 vehicles.

Deliveries to the Olympic Park go to the logistics centres to be screened.  The drivers’ identification and the vehicle details are also checked, all of which are pre-registered.  The vehicles are then recorded onto the Vehicle Tracking Module (VTM) before being called forward to leave the logistics centre to meet their allotted time for arrival at the Olympic Park.


Olympic roads logistics centres go live


The data taken from the VTM is used to manage demand accordingly and ensure that the Logistics Centres stagger vehicles arriving into the Olympic Park. 

ODA Chairman John Armitt said: “The вЂbig build’ is well underway with construction work now started on all of the permanent venues on the site. With around four vehicles a minute entering the Olympic Park, getting the logistics right to support all this activity is imperative and the Logistics Centres help manage the flow of vehicles in and around Stratford.

“We can expect to see a marked increase in the number of vehicles going through the centres and into the Park over the next 18 months and it is reassuring that the off-site support is in place and the centres are fully operational and prepared for the peak of construction next summer.”


Stimulus funds to help VW plant in TennesseeGo-ahead for £20m energy plant

Turnover plummets 40% at A&H Construction & Development

West Midlands-based A&H Construction & Developments has seen its turnover plummet 40% to ВЈ36.3m.

Meanwhile pre-tax profit for the year to 30 April 2009 was also down 33% to ВЈ3m (ВЈ4.5m).

The company, which handles education, local authority, commercial, retail and industrial projects, said that the reduction in turnover was due to one of its major contracts reaching completion.

The average monthly number of employees at A&H was 57, down slightly from 60 in the previous year.

The highest-paid director received ВЈ73,098.

Robinson & Sawdon restructuresNashville area hoteliers can’t get money for growth

O'Brien secures Aston University infrastructure scheme

O’Brien has been awarded the £1.2m deal to deliver infrastructure upgrade works at Aston University in Birmingham.

The midlands-based firm will be principle contractor on the 26 week package. It will install services including district heating mains, high and low voltage electric, cold water and fire hydrant mains plus IT and communication cabling.

The work is part of the university's redevelopment programme, which will provide 3000 new rooms for students on the campus. It follows the ВЈ1.7m enabling works package already undertaken by O'Brien.

Stuart Chamberlain project manager for O’Brien, said: “This is a great contract win for us. It’s a repeat work from a valued client, showing our strong commitment to client satisfaction and the company’s flexible approach to our clients’ requirements.”


OBrien secures Aston University infrastructure scheme


Richard Middleton, chief operating officer at Aston University, said: "We are delighted to continue working with O'Brien. Aston Student Village will provide the best possible environment for our students as part of our commitment to make the University even more attractive to today’s best young talent.

"This contract with O'Brien will help us to redevelop our campus and deliver truly excellent facilities."

Work starts on the new phase this month.

SES lands £16m waste packageNashville medical trade center hires adviser with Vanderbilt ties

Report analyses big plant owners’ performance

The 2008/2009 Plant Hire Investment Report by Catherine Stratton analyses the accounts of the biggest plant hire companies and some of the plant owning contractor and reflects the start of the recession. However, as only six companies have filed their year-end accounts in 2009, the snapshot does not fully reflect the sharp downturn that took place in the second half of 2008.

The two biggest international plant owning companies, Ashtead and Aggreko, retain the top two slots in terms of gross book value of their fleet (at ВЈ1.76bn and ВЈ1.38bn respectively) while at ВЈ544m Lavendon has climbed to third place demoting Speedy (ВЈ514m) to fifth. Balfour Beatty remains the highest placed contractor with a fleet worth ВЈ526m and rises from fifth position to fourth.


Report analyses big plant owners’ performance


Five of the major plant holding companies have boosted the gross book value of their fleet by over a half with Coats Hire growing by 62.2% to ВЈ25.3m while Keller Group was up 60.2% to ВЈ372.9m.

The biggest fallers in terms of fleet value are Taylor Wimpey (which divested much of its plant interest but remains in 30th position) and Ringway (-18.9%). GE Capital Equipment continued its slide with a 17.8% fleet reduction seeing it fall to 20th position while Speedy Hire and sixth-placed Hewden reduced their fleet by 9.7% and 8.2% to stand at ВЈ514.3m and ВЈ436.7m respectively.

Good performers among the hire companies include MFG (Trench), Andrew Sykes, Brandon Hire, HSS and Hydrex, all of which recorded rental revenue higher than the gross book value of their fleet, and rail plant specialist Quattro Plant which grew its income by 87.3% to ВЈ21.3m.

Analysis of the hire companies’ pre-tax profit shows Aggreko’s ВЈ190m is six times second position Ainscough (ВЈ28.8m) while Speedy recorded the biggest pre-tax loss of ВЈ70.6m (due to exceptionals) with five other big names also in negative territory. The report also ranks hire companies using KPIs like changes in revenue, trading profit, profit as a percentage of revenue, gross return on plant, depreciation costs and interest cover.   

Among the 74-strong plant hire customer league table, Balfour Beatty remained firmly on top having spent ВЈ120m on plant hire in 2008 and BG Energy retains second spot with ВЈ104m - albeit that the figure relates to 2007.

Copies of the 112 page Plant Hire Investment report can be ordered on and cost ВЈ499.


Strategic Team Group turnover up 20%Unemployed short on opportunities, benefits

Workers save bee colony with bucket

A group of workmen repairing a bridge in the Cotswolds came to the rescue of a colony of bees whose nest was in a stone parapet which had collapsed.

The crew used a bucket, stones and moss to make an impromptu nest after taking advice from the council's ecologist.

Jenny Watkins from Gloucestershire Highways told the BBC: "Two hours later the bucket was full of bees, and they seemed to be using it as a new nest."

The bucket has been left near the old nest at Ablington Bridge, near Bibury.

Gary Kennison, ecologist for Gloucestershire County Council, said: "It's definitely a nest of bumble bees but we don't know which species yet.

"We've taken photographs and will send them to the biological records centre near Standish, to confirm what we have found.

"This is important as it could be a scarce species that's not been recorded in the county before, or it might even be the first time such bumble bees have been found in a bridge or structure like it."

Murfreesboro’s Broad St. bridge repair is completeNot drowning but dozing - PHOTO

SES lands £16m waste package

Building services specialist SES has landed a package worth at least ВЈ16m to help build 27 household waste recycling plants across Greater Manchester.

SES will work alongside main contractor Costain over the next three years to install M&E systems including external lighting, sprinklers, external water mains and CCTV systems.

Costain's ВЈ397m contract for Viridor Laing is one of the largest PFI deals of its kind in Europe.

Work includes the provision of five mechanical biological treatment plants, one materials recovery facility, four in-vessel composting plants, six transfer loading stations, two green waste facilities and works on 24 household waste recycling centres, spread over a 50 mile radius.


SES lands £16m waste package


A main factor in the choice of SES for the contract was its safety record. CEO Mark Perkins said: "Working on any waste project brings its own health, safety and security issues, both for our operatives onsite and, ultimately, the personnel working on these sites and the general public using them.

"I’m encouraged by the proactive nature and the joined up approach adopted by the client, principal contractor and SES Safety Teams to ensure that safety and security is paramount at all times whilst onsite and going forward.”

Murfreesboro’s Broad St. bridge repair is completeSES scoops major Woolwich M&E scheme